The newest elite business school in Europe, King’s Business School, was officially launched in a ceremony in London on November 9. Emerging out of King’s College London’s School of Management & Business, the new school comprises nearly 100 academic staff, over 40 professional services staff, and close to 2,000 students from more than 80 countries. And it comes at an interesting time, for more than one reason: First, there’s Brexit, the United Kingdom’s pending departure from the European Union. Then there’s the continued decline in what had long been the cornerstone degree for B-schools: the MBA.
Stephen Bach, the new dean of King’s Business School, spoke with Poets&Quants on the day of the official launch of the new school, addressing the “uncertain times” the business world lives in since the 2008 financial crisis and how Brexit, which took many in business — and in business schools — by surprise, will find its way into the King’s curriculum. He also addressed the new school’s answer to the MBA’s decline: to not offer the degree in the first place.
While a number of B-schools have abandoned the full-time, two-year MBA in recent years, King’s is unusual in that it won’t even offer the degree to begin with — the first leading British B-school not to offer an MBA. As Bach says, the school will focus on undergraduate and specialized master’s degrees, because “what we are hearing from employers and some of our advisory group members is that companies are looking for talent at an earlier stage.”
Q; How did the launch ceremony for King’s Business School go?
It went extremely well. We had lots and lots of very high-profile business leaders … including members of our advisory group, people who have led or are leading top companies, and we also had the keynote speech by the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney. He spoke about sustainable and ethical business, and responsibility and this very much fits with King’s vision of making a difference to society and service to society. It was really great to involve our students so much in the event as well.
Q: How do sustainability and diversity factor into the King’s mission as a business school?
It’s very important to us because King’s is one of the great universities of the world. Its been here since 1829, and service to society is extremely important to everything that we do. So we factor it in both in terms of the programs that we teach, the modules that we teach on our undergraduate and other programs in terms of corporate social responsibility. But I think it’s more than that — it’s about practical experience that we give our students and their ability to really give something back to their local community.
To give you an example, we’re working with a number of our local authorities in their municipalities, and our students will have opportunities to give business advice and to help businesses in our local community. We’re working with Westminster City Council to do that.
Q: The announcement about the new school contained interesting phrases about students being prepared for “uncertain times” and a “volatile and rapidly changing world.” How will King’s prepare students for these times and this rapidly changing world?
As we all know, we live in uncertain political and economic times since the financial crisis of 2008. The way that we will prepare our students is that we have really strong social science underpinnings. Within the school we have economists, we have sociologists, we have political scientists, we have psychologists, and of course we have the great reach across into the whole of the university: great law school, great medical school. So we’ll prepare them for uncertain times by giving them a range of perspectives — and also by really developing those attributes.
What we’re hearing from employers is that they want people who can deal with ambiguity, who can take initiative, who can really be critical thinkers in their own right — who don’t have fixed solutions but can actually adapt to a very changing world. And I think the other point is to be very culturally sensitive and rich in their perspective, and we do that, for example, by the fact that we have undergraduates from more than 80 countries around the world. We have a real kind of melting pot, bringing different nationalities, different cultures together, and that’s a way that people really understand each other’s cultures and different business systems.
That’s something that’s really integral to the school and our position in the center of London. It’s a great global, multicultural, and inclusive city.